MF Council approves new development, new life for old FBC 

First Baptist Church first met in Johnson Park in 1888. Their first church building burned in 1961and 12th Street became its home until the new building in LaVentana was occupied. City council action Nov. 1 will allow a new recreation center incarnation for the building.

By Glynis Crawford Smith
The Highlander

The Marble Falls City Council took action Tuesday night to accommodate three projects in the city, one new housing development, a repurposing the former 12th Street First Baptist Church campus and a more streamlined manufactured housing district.
In rezoning a property north of the Wildflower Village Subdivision, roughly between Mustang Drive and Mormon Mill Road, the council agreed with staff and Planning & Zoning Commission opinion that a reduced population density was in the best interest of future neighborhood diversity.
Mustang Ridge Estates
Half of the proposed 173.62-acre Mustang Ridge Estates had been zoned zoned Single-Family Base District (R-1). Approving the re-zoning of the entire area to Single-Family Estates Base District (RE-1), now allows for larger estate-sized lots (one acre minimum).
As an R-1 Zone, a total of 1,770 lots of a minimum 3,000 square feet might have been allowed. But, under the change to RE-1, no more than 173 single-family lots of a minimum 6,000 square feet will be permitted. Although some lots proposed exceed one acre in size, none could be subdivided into lots less than one acre.
City Planner Elizabeth Yeh, said that of 55 adjacent property owners queried, nine responded in support of the project and four, in opposition. In all, 50 homes are located on the 88 lots in the subdivision.
City Council Member Craig Magerkurth recused himself from the vote as a prospective property buyer, but the vote was otherwise unanimous to make the change following the public hearing.
 Raymond Glosser, president of the Wildflower Property Owners Association, spoke up in the hearing to report that the POA members agreed that 173 residences would be preferable to more than 1,000 new neighbors in area that has essentially been a wildwood on their border.
“There is a good chance for the wildlife to return; that the deer and fox will come back, once the construction is done.”
 “We estimate six to eight months to build the infrastructure and sell out the project,” said Davy Roberts, with Mustang Ridge Estates LLC and National Land Partners LLC.
First Baptist Church
Also approved was the request of Rose M. Brasuel for the re-zoning of the 10.28 acres of the former First Baptist Church property at 501 12th Street into a Planned Development District (PDD) with a Neighborhood Commercial District (C-1) base zone. 
Many of the uses of the property had been allowed under the umbrella of church activities that would not have been allowed in the R-1 base zone of most of the property and the General Commercial Base District (C-3) of a half-acre of the property was not in keeping with the new proposal on the table.
Changing the property to C-1 will clear the way for Brasuel to purchase it from First Baptist Church and develop the interior of the main church building to a destination recreational business.
She compared her proposal to Mt. Playmore in North Austin, a facility with an arcade, indoor playscape, party facility and limited menu restaurant. While the property still would be limited from commercial enterprises less compatible with the adjacent residential areas, it would allow professional  offices,  food  sales,  convenience  stores,  general  retail  sales,  personal services, medical or healthcare facilities, life care housing or facilities, restaurants or parks, trails,  and  open  spaces.
Those other potentials fit a “what-if” scenario Brasuel said she did not anticipate, but that would reassure investors. She said, in fact, that, in addition to some outdoor play facilities, she might suggest connecting trails with Mustang Ridge Estates.
“When I saw the inside of the church I could not imagine a better repurpose,” said Brasuel. “The economic future of Marble Falls could use something like this.”
Other buildings on the campus, such as a daycare facility, would continue or be leased, she said. Following purchase of the property, she expects about a year’s project for the conversion.
Of 13 adjacent property owners, two had responded in opposition. The council approved the re-zoning after a public hearing and reassurances that Brasuel planned new Dark Sky lighting and did not anticipate parking lot expansion.
“I have four children as well,” Council Member Rachel Austin-Cook told Brasuel. “We need someplace to play out of the summer heat.”
“With a PDD, the neighborhood gets an added layer  of  land  development  restriction, and any  substantial modifications  to  the  site  plan  or  buildings  would require  approval  through  the  PDD  amendment  process,” said Yeh. 
Manufactured Housing Zone
Finally, council action turned to an amendment of the ordinance describing Mobile Home District (MH-3). Essentially, such a district will now allow site-built homes in addition to manufactured housing.
Yeh’s preamble to the decision described the existing MH-3  district  as “meant  to  be  distinguished  from  the  R-1..in that only manufactured housing (also referred to as mobile homes) which is built in a factory and governed by federal building code would be allowed.”
The city has three different districts spotted around the city that allow manufactured housing.
The Mobile Home Park District (MH-2)  restricts  homes  to  manufactured  housing, specifically to  provide  for  the  development  of  mobile  home  residence  parks.
The Manufactured Housing District (MH-1) is most similar to the MH-3 district, restricted to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulated units. However, site-built housing can be allowed “based on accepted standards of equal value and equal construction”.
“This request came about because recently staff  has  received  several  inquiries  and  permit  applications  requesting  to  build  site-built  homes  on  vacant  lots  within  the  MH-1  and  MH-3  districts,” said Yeh.  “Several  conventional  site-built houses can be found within the MH-1 and MH-3 districts, predating the 1998 zoning.”
One of those projects had advanced to the stage of construction preparation before long-time owners of the property discovered it was zoned MH-3.
“Based on the existing conditions within these district neighborhoods and  the  various  requests  to  permit  site-built  housing,  there  does  not  appear  to  be  an incompatibility between the two housing types,” said Yeh, noting that, as with the other two proposals, this new action aligned with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
Again, the council voted with the recommendation of staff and P&Z commissioners. The MH-3 statement of purpose now will read: “The MH-3 Mobile Home District is intended to provide locations for development of mobile home residential lots. Homes in this district shall be restricted to mobile homes as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 
Site built housing may be allowed based on accepted standards of equal value and equal construction, when developed under the R-1 Single-Family Base District regulations.”

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